Is It Time To Admit Trump Is The Most Media Friendly President?

May 27, 2014. (Photo: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

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Phillip Stucky Political Reporter
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President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office reveal that he has a much closer relationship with the press than former President Barack Obama.

Despite Trump’s contentious public relationship with the press, he held significantly more press conferences in his first 100 days than Obama did during any given year in office.

New York Times White House Correspondent Glenn Thrush said that Trump’s media treatment was more “democratic” in a panel discussion on WAMU-AM’s A Front Row Seat To Spin.

“When Obama had press conferences, he had a single piece of white paper and he had six or seven organizations that he had preselected to call upon, and a lot of them were pretty favorable to him, too,” Thrush said. “I think Trump’s free-ranging press conferences are a lot more democratic than the way that Obama conducted.”

The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) criticized Obama’s administration in a 2015 analysis for the fact that he only selected questions from a pre-planned list of favorable journalists. The CJR also alleged that Obama “filibustered” reporter’s questions during press conferences, forcing only a small number of questions to be asked during the pre-planned events.

Alternatively, Trump calls on multiple outlets during press conferences and allows those reporters multiple questions each. There is no pre-planned list. The White House even added a remote connection so outlets without connections to Washington, D.C. have the ability to ask questions directly of either the president or White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Trump also confronts the media way more often than Obama did. Obama maintained an average of 20.5 press interactions in a given year, including joint press conferences with foreign leaders. President Trump participated in 36 press events in 2017 by April 20, according to The American Presidency Project.

Despite a more open relationship with the press, voters believe that Trump’s relationship is worse than any other president, according to a poll from the American Enterprise Institute. Eighty-one percent of respondents believe that Trump’s relationship with the media is worse than those of past administrations. Additionally, 73 percent claimed the tension is getting in the way of the public’s reliable access to current events.

The public also agrees the media’s coverage of Trump is tougher than Obama’s. Thirty-two percent of respondents in a March CNN poll asserted that the coverage of Trump’s first 100 days was “too tough,” compared to only 11 percent who said the same of the press’ coverage of Obama in a January 2009 poll.

Trump is well on track to be the most accessible president in modern political history. President Calvin Coolidge held the greatest record for press appearances of any president, with an average of 73 in a given year. Trump’s 36 press appearances to date make up nearly half that amount, and the president’s only into the first third of this year in office.

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